5,400-Year-Old Tree "Great Grandfather" Is Discovered in Chile

Trees have existed on earth for 370 million years. It is estimated that there are approximately three trillion mature trees in the world. Scientists have discovered a Patagonia cypress tree in Chile known as “Great Grandfather” or Alerce Milenario is even older. Recent analysis of a segment of tree rings shows the giant is an estimated 5,484 years old—likely taking the award for oldest living tree.

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Deep in the Chilean forest about 500 miles south of Santiago, the cypress tree stands amid dense foliage, sheltered from the elements in a ravine. A member of the Fitzroya cupressoides species, the magnificent tree is 13 feet in diameter and 92 feet tall. Moss flourishes on its surface and smaller trees have even taken root in its cracks. "It's a survivor, there are no others that have had the opportunity to live so long," Antonio Lara of Austral University and Chile's center for climate science and resilience, noted to AFP.